Big Ten presidents voice support for college athletes’ rights

Alex Putterman, Reporter

The 14 Big Ten university presidents released a statement Tuesday advocating for increased rights for college athletes.

The presidents expressed support for scholarships that are guaranteed for four years and cover the full cost of college attendance as well as improved medical coverage for athletes.

The statement made clear, however, that the conference does not endorse additional compensation for athletes.

“The amateur model is not broken, but it does require adjusting for the 21st century,” it read. “Whether we pay student-athletes is not the true issue here. Rather, it is how we as universities provide a safe, rewarding and equitable environment for our student-athletes as they pursue their education.”

Last week, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany testified at the ongoing Ed O’Bannon v. NCAA trial, which will determine whether former players have the right to benefit from their own likenesses. At the trial, Delany defended the NCAA but voiced support for some degree of reform.

In an April interview with The Daily, University President Morton Schapiro said college athletes deserve improved rights and conditions but that they should not be compensated as employees.

“If they’re scholarships athletes, and they have a full scholarship, it should cover room and board and tuition and some living expenses,” he said. “That’s very different than being paid to play football, which I would never think would be appropriate, especially at a place like Northwestern, where our athletes are very serious students.”

Last month, Pac-12 university presidents sent a letter to their colleagues across the country, prescribing certain systemic changes and suggesting greater autonomy for the nation’s five biggest conferences, including the Big Ten.

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